Despite having 10 hours of sleep, I’m still tired and could go for some more. This morning a surprise is waiting for me, there is frost outside. That hasn’t happened to me for weeks.
Today I’m still feeling weak from yesterday’s sickness. Everything I do is slow, and I even consider staying here for the day. I decide against it though, thinking that one day or another I’ll have to climb Mt Misery and I’d rather be over it soon.
I decide to take my time and don’t start packing up until it warms up. Just before 10am I’m on my way to Mt Misery. It has a good name, almost as promising as Mt Terrible back in Victoria. I have more energy than yesterday and I progress at my own pace. There is no rush. Wherever I get today will be good enough.
After a few kilometres the ascension begins. The road is very good, it’s a dirt road with no technical challenges whatsoever. I stop frequently though, and even walk some of the time. As I’m going I remember that I have some sachets of electrolyte drink. It’s a good thing I did a basic inventory, as it’s the perfect opportunity to use them. My body probably needs to rehydrate. While I’m making my electrolyte drink, I hear some tires behind me. A couple on mountain bikes are ascending and stop for a chat. They are on a mountain bike touring trip, but they have left their gear at the pub to do a one day loop. It’s nice to see other people touring by mountain bike, but I have no hope to see them again as I’m progressing terribly slowly.
To my surprise I’m soon at the top of Mt Misery, it was really a piece of cake. Even with a fully loaded bike and recovering from sickness, I can do it. I give it a score of 2/10 on the difficulty scale.
I use the opportunity at the top to download my emails and answer some messages. We are discussing alternative route options with the BNT committee for the upcoming missing link. The detour I suggested is 130km long as opposed to 60km for the current route. Some more thinking will be required.
I make my way down Mt Misery and arrive in Irvinebank. It’s a pretty little town stuck in narrow valley surrounded by hills and an old volcano. It’s all very green and well maintained with many old buildings and a museum.
There is also a tavern, and after much hesitation I order lunch. I have enough food with me but eating something different and rich in fat, sodium and carbs is appealing.
I eat slowly, still recovering from my stomach issues while two local blokes have a chat with me. One is very keen and talks about his desire to do long distance walks. I’m struggling to maintain a conversation, eat and not fall asleep. He offers me the opportunity to camp at his place and advises that there are not many camping spots ahead because the terrain is very rocky.
I would have liked to continue further, otherwise tomorrow will be a big day. But I hang out at the pub, waiting to just go get a nap on the grass at the communal campsite. Jason (the guy who offered to have me stay with him) insists I stay and I accept the offer. After he finishes smoking another cigarette and picking up a pack of beers, I follow him to his place. Him on a motorbike, and me on my pushbike.
At his place, there are three dogs and two little girls, around 10 and 12 years old. Another young boy arrives later after his sport and the other mate from the pub comes over for beers and smoke.
I doze off on the sofa after a warm shower and finally find the energy to join my host and his mate in never ending conversations about any topic. I must say Jason is very open minded and it’s not often that I find someone with progressive views in a small place like this. I explain what I used to do for a living and they are astonished that I used to consult in IT for the biggest firms in the country, I don’t think they expected that.
Jason’s house is very simple and has the minimum needed.
The kids cook a stew and I share dinner with everybody. Soon I can’t stay awake anymore and I retire to the caravan where a swag is in place. There are also some mattresses in the shed, where the young boy usually sleeps, but I bet the swag will be warm and bug free. Thomas, the little boy, will sleep in the living room tonight, as it’s bloody cold outside. It’s a good idea I reckon. The shed has no door and I would find it less comfortable than a tent, let alone a proper bedroom. The other girls are lucky to have a bedroom.
It’s my first time sleeping in a swag. Being in Australia, it’s something I must experience. I still don’t understand why it’s so popular. It’s not really easier to setup than a tent and not more comfortable. I’m not sold on the concept yet.